The State of WPPI Energy
By Mike Peters, President and CEO
WPPI Energy is the not-for-profit power supplier serving New Richmond Utilities and 50 other locally owned utilities in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa. I know that reliable, affordable power is important to the economic health and the quality of life in New Richmond, and as a customer of a WPPI Energy member utility, you have a stake in how we are doing for your community.
Since 1890, New Richmond has been providing local, hometown service with a kind of customer focus that is unique to community-owned, public power utilities. To help preserve this important customer focus, as well as the important long-term value that public power brings to your community, New Richmond Utilities works together with the 50 other member utilities of WPPI Energy to share expertise and technology and to power your community with a portfolio of cost-effective, reliable resources.
This year, the WPPI Energy membership has three important priorities: maintaining a diverse and strong power supply portfolio; staying on the cutting edge of new and developing technologies; and continuing to do all we can to keep costs down today while also maintaining our strategic focus on meeting our communities’ long-term needs.
First, just like a good retirement portfolio, a strong power supply must have diversity and flexibility. Our electric generation comes from assets that WPPI Energy owns--the recently completed Elm Road Generating Station in Oak Creek, Wis., is one example--as well as from long-term purchases of power from resources like the Point Beach Nuclear Plant near Two Rivers, Wis. Our power supply resources feature a mix of coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables. This diverse and flexible combination has allowed us to maintain reliable service and stable rates amid energy market fluctuations and this year’s record-setting weather.
The recent additions from Elm Road and Point Beach also have helped to make ours the cleanest and most modern fleet in the region. By working together and planning carefully for the future, New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy’s other member utilities have positioned your community very well to continue providing reliable and cost-effective service in the face of significant new environmental regulations.
Technology is another area in which WPPI Energy member utilities enjoy shared strength. In a rapidly changing industry, WPPI Energy members share sophisticated software and systems, innovative technologies and expertise to bring you excellent services and customer programs. This past year, for example, our members worked together to benchmark best practices for metering and billing, drawing upon the combined knowledge of 51 utilities to set the bar high for providing excellent service in our communities.
Despite these accomplishments, the year has not been without its challenges. An increase in the formula-based rate that we are charged by one of our investor-owned wholesale power utility suppliers and lower revenue from market energy sales have contributed to cost pressures for our members this year. As our communities continue the difficult process of recovering from the economic downturn, we take seriously our responsibility to keep costs down. I am pleased to report that the Executive Committee of the WPPI Energy Board of Directors took a number of decisive steps this year to reduce our dependency on such formula-rate contracts and to reduce the amount of excess energy that we need to sell in the market.
Throughout the past year, as they have since our agency was formed in 1980, WPPI Energy’s members continued to demonstrate the advantages of local ownership and joint action. The concept can be stated quite simply: there’s strength in numbers. By working together, locally owned New Richmond Utilities and the 50 other member utilities of WPPI Energy ensure that New Richmond remains economically healthy and well-positioned for the long term.